Australia’s loudest radio shock jock, Alan Jones, has launched an extraordinary attack on the Queensland premier, claiming Campbell Newman visited him at home at the urging of senior Liberals and promised to oppose a major coal expansion, which his government later approved.
In the first of Jones’s special one-hour Queensland election broadcasts on Brisbane’s 4BC radio station – airing each weekday in the primetime 8-9am talkback slot until the January 31 poll – he also alleged Newman and senior Liberal National colleagues had lied to Queenslanders about mining deals, jobs and debt.
The Queensland-born broadcaster came back from holidays early to have his say on the state election. He plans to make further allegations against senior government figures in the days ahead, including one of the LNP’s top leadership contenders if Newman loses his seat, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.
Jones claimed that before the March 2012 election, Newman visited him at home and pledged to oppose stage 3 of the New Hope coal mine at Acland, near where the radio host was born and grew up in the Darling Downs region. One week after Jones went off air late last year, the mine was approved.
“Campbell Newman lied to me. I have no reason to believe anything he says,” Jones said on 4BC on Monday.
Jones has been at war with the Newman government and the state’s major newspaper, The Courier-Mail over the Acland mine for some time.
Soon after the broadcast, Newman dismissed the attack as old news, saying: “Alan Jones is a bloke from Sydney who has made all sorts of comments in the past and there’s nothing new about anything he’s said.”
The top-rating Sydney-based broadcaster could certainly have used some better local knowledge. Jones repeatedly said that the Newman government had “78 seats out of 89” in the Queensland parliament – which was true back in March 2012, but a spate of resignations and defections have since reduced the government’s numbers to 73 seats.
The attack from Jones – who has long been seen as a political kingmaker, especially on the conservative side of politics – comes as the latest polls show the LNP government facing a double-digit backlash in some key seats.
On Monday, Jones told listeners: “I’m not telling you how to vote. But I’m telling you a few things about this lot that you won’t hear anywhere else.”
While largely ignoring the Labor opposition, Jones praised “some excellent independents” and explained he felt compelled to weigh into the campaign because “once a Queenslander, always a Queenslander”.
But what impact Jones has on the conservative vote in Queensland over the next fortnight remains to be seen. While some 4BC listeners called to thank him for intervening, the LNP will be crossing its fingers that more Queenslanders agree with one Monday morning caller, Peter, who rang in to tell Jones: “I think the way you’ve ranted and raved this morning, you’ve done Campbell Newman a favour.”
Read more of The Conversation’s Queensland election 2015 coverage.